The IT department of any large enterprise is responsible for ensuring that applications and IT capabilities are available to internal and external customers at all times. The facilities management department of any large enterprise makes sure any real estate, building and equipment needs are met. Woe unto that enterprise where these two departments don't line right up with each other.
That may not seem necessary at first glance. The two departments have such different and distinct functions. But look to the synergies that exist between the IT and facilities management teams. That's where success happens and trouble is averted.
The Case for Collaboration
One of the biggest challenges facing IT departments today is the speed with which they're expected to deploy their services. This according to IDC Research. Reducing the time it takes to deploy new workloads and applications is a top priority. And when delays happen it's often for lack of communication between the IT and facilities departments.
For an IT department to quickly deliver new capabilities and new applications it has to provision new hardware to operate and store applications and data. Quickly ramping up and implementing new applications and capabilities calls for provisioning and installing new hardware in a data centre. And that in turn means over-provisioning for cooling, power, redundancy and space, as necessary. The large computing and storage requirements of today's advanced applications further increase the amount of equipment and power that's called for. Without clear layers of communication, there's plenty of room for trouble.
Break Down the Silos
"One silo - one group - does a really good job, but they have blinders on”, says Jennifer Cooke, IDC Research analyst. “They're just looking at their job or their function. They're not talking to facilities people first. When equipment comes in, there's not enough power because there's very dense power requirements. Or it's disrupting the data centre in that it's putting out a lot of heat and then a retrofit has to be implemented to ensure that the equipment can be supported in the data centre. What's lacking is the connection between the groups."
Under-provisioned data centres is just one kind of bottleneck. In companies where facilities management and IT aren't aligned, reality is a pre-populated server rack that won't fit through a doorway. Or there's a chance that elevators won't be available at critical junctures. Or cabling and construction within the data centre computer room won't be ready when the IT department is.
And… that… slows… everything… down…
Bridging the Divide
So, how to make it happen? How does a company develop an effective alignment between facilities management and IT? Where's the common language?
First and foremost, you need oversight. And it's essential that IT services are an integral part of the company's larger strategy.
But strategy alone won't increase alignment, collaboration and coordination. For that to happen, the leaders of these disparate departments within the enterprise - facilities management and IT - need to sit down together and work collaboratively towards a common set of goals. That takes leadership.
"Have a common set of goals," IDC's Jennifer Cooke explained. "Compensate or reward the leadership from these previously siloed organizations for achieving those common goals. Right now, the heads of each group are motivated by different things, and there's little tie-in to the big picture. The more you can get each of those individual silos tied into the big picture, the better your outcomes will be."